Equality Florida raising funds for LGBTQ Center of Bay County following Hurricane Michael destruction

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
Comments: 0

Equality Florida, the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for LGBTQ Floridians, is seeking donations to rebuild the Florida Panhandle’s only LGBTQ resource center after Hurricane Michael devastated it in October.

Michael—a Category 4 storm—made landfall in Florida Oct. 10, becoming the fourth strongest hurricane to strike the mainland U.S. The LGBTQ Center of Bay County, known as The Center, was directly in its path and lost part of its roof. Most of the building’s contents were damaged or destroyed.The Center’s vision is to build a thriving LGBTQ community, one that lives in a supportive and inclusive environment. Its mission is to enhance and sustain the health and well-being of the LGBTQ population of Bay County by providing activities, programs and services. It seeks to empower community members, provide essential resources, advocate for civil and human rights and support LGBTQ cultural diversity.

“The Center enhances and empowers Bay County’s LGBTQ population through programs, services and resources,” Equality Florida shared Nov. 21. “In addition to its civil and human rights advocacy, The Center hosts PFLAG meetings, transgender support group meetings, weekly youth group meetings and other trainings. It is the only LGBTQ youth resource in a large swath of North Florida.”

According to Equality Florida and The Center, in order for the organization to resume serving the Panhandle’s LGBTQ youth community it will first need to repair its destroyed building infrastructure. It will also need to replace damaged computers, a refrigerator and television, clean and replace damaged chairs and tables, restock its library and DVD collection and replenish craft supplies and its snack pantry.

“The Center’s Peer Youth Support Group is an essential community program aimed at addressing issues among LGBTQ+ youth,” Executive Director of Girls Inc. Niki Kelley advises via the organization’s website.

“Suicide is the leading cause of death for LGBTQ+ teens. It is critical for the parents, guardians and other family members of LGBTQ+ youth to have access to the resources they need to ensure their children are protected and supported. We believe that the Center is an excellent resource to provide these much-needed services in our community.”

As of Nov. 27, Equality Florida has raised over $4,000 of its $20,000 goal. The organization has committed to matching up to the first $5,000 in donations.

For more information about Equality Florida, The Center or to donate funds, visit EqualityFlorida.org/BayFund or LGBTQCenterOfBayCounty.org.

Share this story: